ASEM talks to focus on economy and climate
The leaders of Asia’s most powerful countries will be in Brussels next week for a series of talks with their European counterparts on the global economic crisis, climate change and trade.
The eighth summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) will be on Monday and Tuesday (4-5 October), followed by bilateral summits between the EU and China, and the EU and South Korea on Wednesday (6 October).
ASEM is the world’s second-largest assembly of governments after the United Nations, including 46 member countries plus the European Commission and the Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). As of next week, it will include Australia, New Zealand and Russia, which will be admitted as members during the summit. Julia Gillard will be making her first foreign visit since becoming Australia’s prime minister in June.
Most leaders from the EU member states are scheduled to attend the meeting. Denmark, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Sweden will be represented by their foreign ministers, and the United Kingdom by Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister.
Representing the EU will be Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, and Yves Leterme, the prime minister of Belgium, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU’s Council of Ministers. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, will be away in Africa.
The ASEM summit will focus on the implications of the global and economic financial crisis for global governance in the run-up to a summit of the G20 group of leading and emerging economies in Seoul on 11-12 November. It will also discuss ways to strengthen co-operation between Europe and Asia on energy, the environment, food security and social development. The two sides will discuss threats from terrorism, maritime piracy and organised crime, and the situation in Iran, Burma, Afghanistan and North Korea.
Naoto Kan, Japan’s prime minister, plans to attend the summit and has indicated that he would be willing to meet Wen Jiabao, his Chinese counterpart, on the sidelines of the summit. Relations between the two countries are tense following the detention by Japan of a Chinese captain whose fishing boat collided with Japanese coastguard vessels.
Yousaf Raza Gilani, the prime minister of Pakistan, will not attend the summit. Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the foreign minister, will head the Pakistani delegation instead.
On 6 October, the EU and South Korea will sign a free- trade agreement that was concluded a year ago. It is to take effect provisionally on 1 July, pending ratification by the two sides.